In the beginning, there was silence: a cold, metallic tubular object with an exponential shape. This is what I would inevitably go back to every single day before playing the instrument. Surrounding me is an atmosphere which will be the vehicle for any sound. This is where things start to get complicated as its properties vary greatly according to the situation. Then acoustics come into play. Unlike a listener or a microphone, the player mostly hears indirect sounds from behind the instrument. But wait, which player?
The Trumpet Player
Obviously, while the local environment matters a great deal, the main source of varying factors and randomness is the person about to play the instrument. Conversely, that same person should also be able to adapt to any given situation. Practising always in the same conditions helps as it provides a reference point. The player can then establish a warming-up procedure to keep recreating an optimal state and ultimately be ready to perform anywhere. Sleep, food, mood and health in general have a direct effect on the initial ability to produce a sound, let alone to play anything more elaborate or improvise. As each person is different and keeps evolving, it is a never-ending challenge.
Warming up basically equates to learning again how to play the instrument from scratch, in fast-forward. That is probably true for music in general and many other activities, but what about the trumpet specifically? Every aspect of it would deserve a full study: breathing, posture, muscles, mental focus… The key thing to remember is that cutting corners will result in pain, low endurance, poor tone and inaccurate pitch control among other things. Experience will unveil more effective ways to repeatedly go from square one to however advanced you might be rather than directly attempt to jump there with the first note of the day - and miss. At least, this is what I have found to be the most important thing to keep in mind. If I feel like I’m not performing as well as usual, it usually means that I haven’t warmed up well enough.
This is the first post in a projected series to reflect upon the journey I resumed five years ago as a trumpet player. The instrument offers me alternative perspectives upon many things, so I might touch on other subjects too.
Last modified on 2021-10-18